The fork is a useful kitchen utensil. On the one hand, you use it to stab food or mash potatoes. On the other, you use it to eat whatever you’ve stabbed with the fork. The fork was invented in ancient Greece around 650 BC when Greeks used knives and spoons with three legs instead of four to eat.
The ancient greeks first used the fork to pierce a loaf of ancient Greek bread. They put a small metal spike in the middle of the loaf. They would insert this metal spike into the body of the loaf, and it became easier to cut and eat.
During this time, the Greeks suffered a shortage of grain and famine, so they came up with a new way for people to eat. This time it was closer to our modern-day use. The Greeks called their device (spoon with three legs) ‘Spondylos,’ meaning ‘to stick.’ First used by the ancient Greeks only but later by many other civilizations throughout history (e.g., Romans, Egyptians, Greeks) until today.
Should we Use It?
Two hundred years later, forks were still very much frowned upon. In 1724, Thomas Steele wrote that a lady without a fork would be thought little of but within another fifty years, even the gentry was using them, and by 1835 they had become standard issues in polite society. They have also steadily increased in popularity with the middle classes and, since the 1950s, have become commonplace for most people.
The fork is still sometimes shunned, however. The first use of the phrase’ finger food’ appeared in the 1920s. This was when people started to eat foods that were easy to pick up, such as french fries and chicken fingers. However, chips are now served with a knife and fork by many people in the UK, and potato cakes or fish cakes are found in restaurants where people expect them to be served with a knife and fork because they already know this is how chips are usually eaten. Similarly, chicken nuggets often come with a knife and fork, as do McDonald’s burgers.
Why weren’t People in Ancient Times Outraged?
The ancient Greeks didn’t have forks. They used spoons with three legs instead of four and thought it was perfectly normal to pierce bread with a knife and fork. They didn’t have table settings or cutlery, and no one would think anything of it. Some even had forks they used to spear fish while swimming in rivers – as if you were going to use your fingers to spear a fish! (they then filleted it with a knife).
The future of the Fork
Today, eating chopsticks in Japan is normal, but the invention of the fork has changed their lives. Suddenly everyone wants to eat with a fork. Using a knife or spoon for most things is just too much hard work. In America, on the other hand, more people feel that they do not like using silverware at all. They say they are too slow and that they make food taste bad!
It is also thought that the fork will not last forever as it is a complicated piece of equipment that clever people have thought up on behalf of other clever people. Fewer and fewer people are using them. The idea that we need to use tools to eat is strange. It was all that was available in the past, but now there is a choice. Maybe we will see some new devices in the future that everyone will use to eat. Some think the worst-case scenario for forks is for them to be used in situ on airplanes with paper plates and plastic cutlery – a total waste of time and money.
But for now, you should be aware that many people still find them useful, and it is normal to use them.
Some people are not happy that the fork is so common today. They say it shouldn’t be like that because it has always been the ancient Greeks and Romans who invented it. These people think that we brought forks to America from England, so the name ‘English fork’ is still correct even though it’s actually Greek that was first used to eat with. These people also feel that using silverware is a sign of class and sophistication, preferring to make their food with their bare hands instead of using a fork or spoon.